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Circuit Courts Now Split on Bans Against Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit broke with a wide array of other federal courts when it upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states: Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. This decision directly conflicts with the Federal Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits.

The Sixth Circuit noted that all of the same-sex couples involved "...seek dignity and respect, the same dignity and respect given to marriages between opposite-sex couples." However, with a divided court, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the question of whether to allow or ban same-sex marriage in every state is for the people or the states, and not for the judges applying the national Constitution.

"Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way."

The decision creates a circuit split that will likely force the Supreme Court to the rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, which it most recently refused to do when it denied seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage on October 6, 2014.

DeBoer, et al. v. Snyder, 11/6/14 Docket No. 14-1341, File Name 14a0275p.06

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